Ready to Read

Create Buzz

Remember how you talked up the potty and big-kid underwear? Do the same with reading. If your kid thinks books are boring, she's not going to be eager to learn to read. Try these ways to play up the printed word.

Add drama. Involve your child in gathering props and costumes, and even playing a character at storytime. If Pinkalicious is on your reading list, for instance, ask her to collect a bunch of pink objects from around the house or dress in pink clothes before you crack open the book. When it's Knuffle Bunny's turn, bring your kid's stuffed animals to listen to the tale with her. Books with dialogue and intriguing characters, like Frog and Toad or Three Little Pigs, lend themselves to homemade plays, says Lynne Fox, an educational consultant in Cranbury, New Jersey. Read a passage, then act it out with your kid, or create sock or paper-bag puppets and put on a show.

Make up stories. Some children this age shy away from books because they feel pressure to read the words. So instead focus on the pictures. Ask your child to thumb through a book and tell you what's happening just by looking at the illustrations. Or borrow library books that have few if any words. Two good picks: Where's Walrus? and The Lion & the Mouse. "This activity is a great building block for school because teachers encourage kids to look at the pictures to predict what a word might be," says Melissa Taylor, a teacher in Denver and education blogger at ImaginationSoup.net.

Match interests. Read books that relate to whatever your child is into these days. "It's okay if the book is about her favorite cartoon character or the plot is far from award-winning," says Taylor. "If the book excites a reluctant reader, then it's done its job." Princess and dress-up fans will love listening to the Fancy Nancy series and Ponyella while animal enthusiasts will appreciate National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Animals and The Gruffalo. Among books based on cartoon characters, the Charlie & Lola and Berenstain Bears series are particularly well-done.

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